Dedication and Acknowledgements
This course would never have come into existence with out Kripalu Ashram and the inspiration of an extraordinary man known as Gurudev, Yogi Amrit Desai. Gurudev has dedicated his life to love, spirit and serving others. He continues to wake up the lives of hundreds of thousands of people searching for a better way to live. It was in Gurudev's ashram, (a yoga university) known as Kripalu, back in the 1980's and 1990's that lit up this author's love of yogic lifestyle, especially early morning praanaayaama and these breathing practices. In that period, there was a cadre of hardcore yogis would wake at 3:30am and get ready for 4am praanaayaama practice.
In the ashram, our time was maximized to accelerate our spiritual evolution, which may sound strange to someone who has never experienced this or even doubts this is possible. There were 350 devotees, living in love, dressed in white, eating vegan food and serving others selflessly six and a half days a week. It was a Golden Era of Yoga in America being disseminated in its true form, through direct transmission from a very high level source. This Next Breath is dedicated to you, Gurudev, and is really the extension of your work that you began so many decades ago.
With heartfelt humility, Gurudev himself would immediately acknowledge his guru, Swaamee Kripalu from whom all of this flowed. Swaamiee Kripalu practiced a similar version of this praanaayaama practice and its divinely infused transmission of energy that radiates in the world through the Kripalu teachers.
There are so many others whose contribution to this work can not be underestimated.
On the Kripalu side, there are a thousand thank yous.
It started with Don Stapleton, Joyce Hammond, Todd Norian, and Shoshona in the summer of 1986. And opened up into the St Croix kula of Chandrakant, Louise Leard, Rhona Pessin, Trippta Cohen, Maggie Luce, Sati Tina Henle, Baladev and Malti who were all instrumental in awaking my love for yoga in the very early days before my tenure at the ashram. After moving into the ashram, so many significant Kripalu teachers shared their heartfelt knowledge and experience : The most important information on praanaayaama came from Grey Ward Gitanand, who was the author’s mentor and roommate in India. So many bright lights of the Kripalu tradition were instrumental in creating the author’s practice: Christopher Baxter, Deva Parnell, Prabhakar Jeff Migdow, Sudha Carolyn Lundeen, Megha Nancy Buttenheim, Will Nuessle, Rudy Peirce, Dayashakti, Shantipriya, Michelle Duchamps, Richard Michaels, and Yoganand Michael Carroll. I was so lucky to have an abundance of yoga buddies sharing the path who made it all bearable: Mark Kapner, Tony K, Rohit Millstein, John deKadt, Tom Sweeney, and I am going to stop here because there are 40 or 50 more people and I fear I might forget their names.
Mickey Singer has been a non stop shining light over all these decades from that Golden Era at the ashram.
From the Lakulish school, Rajarshi Muni and his lineage of teachers in Kayavarohan, India had a huge impact. The three and a half months we Kripalu teachers spent there in his care in 1994 was mind-blowing. Ethereal. Other worldly and literally gut wrenching.
Richard Freeman and his contribution to yoga in America cannot be overstated. A true yogi of the highest integrity, talent and insight, Richard's decades of brilliant teaching is echoed many times in this course. Vyaas Houston of the American Sanskrit Institute deserves special recognition for the huge impact he has made in the creation of this course, especially the Long Exhales. Judith Hanson Lasater has been a constant source of practical down to earth yoga anatomy information that has been invaluable over the decades. Her work on the sacrum is invaluable. I am grateful to Paul and Suzee Grilley for their friendship and who have brought forth one of the most important conversations in yoga: human variation and how it affects alignment. Erich Schiffman showed me some key information early on. Beryl Bender Birch and David Swenson were important people in my yoga world and contributed in significant ways many years ago. Tom Myers has been a constant light in the world of yoga anatomy and cutting edge ideas. Huge praise and thank you to Leslie Kaminoff and his life long study of breath, his anatomy teachings and his courageous untangling of misinformation that has plagued the yoga world. Leslie’s work has been fundamental to how this course has evolved. I am grateful to many more yoga teachers who have shown the way.
On the science side of my life,
this work really was very much informed and brought forth because of my longtime collaboration with Dr. Lisa Uebelacker and Dr Geoff Tremont. Our decade long conversations on testing yoga techniques and using the scientific method to discover what works for beginners has been the critical step in finding how to bring this course to millions of people. The vast yogic tradition is full of traditional ideas and old ways of teaching, some of them very valuable. Some of those traditional methods have been dropped from this course because of the empirical data that came back. Using the power of the scientific method and verifying the wisdom in the yoga tradition is an exciting new field that is in its infancy. The process of bringing closer scrutiny to the rationales behind practices and then getting feedback from hundreds of average people taking yoga for the first time has made all the difference in the world. What works? What is simple? What connects with people?
On the technical side of production,
Katie Wood of Crowheart Creative flew from Montana and we began the process of our first video shoot and web page design. Andrew Rock and Sara Greenewalt were the first yoga models. After a dozen website redesigns, these pages are looking lovely, clean and bright. In April 2018, Joshua Rapoza was the videographer and editor of our second shoot with Andrew Rock and Alina Braynaert as our models. These videos show up as Breath Experiment #1 to Breath Experiment #6. Joshua gave me an introduction to Final Cut Pro. Video editing is so labor intensive, it was clear that I needed to learn Final Cut Pro because of the hundreds of hours needed for this project. I am deeply indebted to Sonja Lemoi who shot still photography at the Temple of Music in Roger Williams Park. Sonja took over 1300 gorgeous photos that are used extensively in the video productions and on the website. Bert Perry was our drone photographer on that day. An enormous thank you to my teacher colleagues who modeled in the Temple of Music that day: David Beretta, Debbie Bourque, Joanna Read, Tanya Gorrarian-Goodwin and Liz Butler. They showed up without hesitation for a most enjoyable early morning practice that included the longest supta baddha konaasana in the history of yoga. Thank you to Tanya Gorrarian-Goodwin and Bella Gillette, who came back on separate days as yoga models and we re-shot many of the close up and special shots that were needed in the videos. In December 2018, Belinda Randall was the talented yogini in the scrim videography shots you will see. In March 2019, I flew to Florida and did three days of video with Gabriela Pomplova. Her collaboration and insight into this project, besides her exquisite demonstration of the Advanced Course (release date Fall 2019) are invaluable. Twenty or so yoga students from the Providence area briefly show up in many videos. Their readiness and willingness to help is greatly appreciated.
A huge thank you all my yoga teacher colleagues at Eyes of the World who have become outrageously talented beacons of light in the world, in chronological order, sort of: Amy Weintraub, Karen Shelton, Ellen Schaeffer, Sheri Silva, Shannah Green, Katherine Conte, Tricia MacDonald, Ruthie Fraser, Jon Leaver, David Beretta, Gretchen Mayhew, Jennifer Spaziano, Usha Bilotta, Jenn Thomas, Mimi Budnick, Liz Butler, Debbie Bourque, Patricia Hottel, Estrella Rego, Lisa Horne, Alyson McCann, Jessie Eisendrath, Rebecca Foster, and dozens of others have all contributed so much over the years.
A huge thank you to Kerri Gillette, who has taken every breath with me for the last 14 years. Without your support, this would not have happened.
And the biggest of all the acknowledgments is for the hundreds of dearly loyal students who show up week after week for decades.
You know who you are. This course is designed by you, and is for you. Without your presence, the intelligence and the focus that you continue to bring to each class, This Next Breath would never have come into being. This course is a longtime collaboration of what you and I have discovered by showing up every day. I am forever indebted to your unswerving love.